“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn
We’ve all come across this message of self-care 1,000 times before. While so simple, it’s stuck around for a reason, because it’s so true. And when I think of someone that helps and takes care of others really well, the answer is simple: a mother. Mother’s make the best cheerleaders. The best fans. Always rooting for others. Well, what if we rooted for ourselves the way mothers cheer on their own children? What if we showed ourselves the warmth and support our mothers have shown us? By adopting some simple daily practices, we can turn ourselves into our own biggest fans, every day. Because when we’re taking actions that nourish our own mind, body, and spirit, we can then give our fullest selves to others—family, friends, co-workers, the person serving your coffee. Just like the lovely Ms. Hepburn said.
So how do we do it? When I look back on what mother’s do best, I picture life from the moment we rise to when we wind down at night. With that in mind, I put together four morning-to-night mother-inspired practices that have allowed me to tap into my own nurturing spirit and take even better care of myself. I hope you embrace the practices that fit your life, whether you’re a mother, or a daughter like me, who happened to have a woman in her life who inspired every thought here.
Appreciate something you love about yourself in the mirror, every morning.
Mothers dish out compliments like candy. But they are sincere with their affirmations. When I first heard this suggestion at a speaking event (namely, to find something you love about yourself, just as is) from natural beauty advocate Cindy Joseph, they too, were spoken with a warmth and
sincerity. I could tell she really meant it and wanted women everywhere to embrace this practice. I remember her saying, “Whether it’s your upper lip, your freckles, your smile— pick something you love just as is and decide that it’s perfect, with no makeup or tweaks necessary.” This reminds me of mothers and those precious morning moments when they wake up their children, kiss, cuddle and love on them—loving them just as they are. As grown women, we’re so often pressured to “fix” or “add” to ourselves upon waking. And while we all eventually want to be put together, feeling our best for that particular day, I’ve loved embracing this contrasting messaging because it allows me to embrace the pureness of morning in myself. I’ve always been a morning person because it’s the most untainted time of day for me. And ever since I heard this, I’ve come to love the pureness of myself in the morning too. Bare faced, untainted, unpressured—being right in sync with those precious moments before the day starts to affect our appearance and attitudes. So whether it’s a few minutes or 15, I think it’s important to appreciate yourself just as you are.
Pack a healthy lunch or make your favorite dinner this week.
Mothers nurture by preparing food for their children and others they host in their home. Often, they don’t let their kids leave the house without a snack or at least a reminder of what time dinner is that night. We’re all busy going about our day but preparing something comforting at home that compliments your life on-the-move is truly a reminder of home and likely more enjoyable because it was prepared with intention (and possibly even memorable because a family member or good friend lent you a hand in the kitchen). For the past two weeks, a co-worker and I have been lunch-sharing. She brings our lunch Mon/Wed and I take the Tues/Thurs shift. Not only are we eating healthier food than if we were going out, but we get to share both our food and conversation with one another. Food creates connections; it brings us together and is a great way to express care for someone else. And I bet there’s one meal or time of day you enjoy eating the most and a certain kind of recipe you like making. So make that one meal! Enjoy the process as much as the outcome. Whether it’s breakfast, your favorite snack, or cooking a meal with your favorite playlist on at the end of the day, like I do to unwind, show yourself some love from the inside out.
Give yourself permission to play.
Kids get recess in school. In fact, I had recess 7th-12th grade. Crazy, I know. But I’m so glad we did because not only was it fun and a much-needed dose of vitamin D, it kept us high schoolers light and vulnerable, in a good way. That’s because play keeps our fears at bay. When you play, you’re being very vulnerable: you might not be the best one out there, you could get hurt, you might lose. But the upside is camaraderie, confidence and character building. “Go outside and play with your friends,” a mother says. Always cheering us on to get outside and run around, mother’s encourage play all throughout our childhood. Because they witness the smile and joy it brings to their child’s face and spirit. But as we grow older, we get “busy,” and we hate the thought of “losing” or looking foolish at work or in front of our friends. We’re supposed to stay inside and focus on work, right? Well, I think we need to take back permission to play. And just like food, find something we actually enjoy. Whether it’s signing up for a pottery class, learning a new language, having a daily walking buddy at work, or better yet, starting an activity-oriented club at work (we go bowling and there’s nothing more vulnerable than that!), there’s so many ways we can re-embrace play in our adult lives.
Embrace a nightly ritual you actually enjoy.
Reading books and singing lullabies, mothers take every measure to treat nighttime with tenderness. They remove barriers to soothe children: noise, harsh lighting – I know I can get caught up in the opposite of almost all of these things: watching tv, texting or working until that moment I need to go to sleep. And while there’s things that always need to get “done,” there’s also only 24 hours in a day for a reason and I think we should respect ourselves enough to wind down a little more softly than how we operate for the majority of the day. Removing some nighttime barriers can soothe our minds and bodies so we can rest more fully. Not overeating at dinner, turning off devices 30 minutes before bed, reading a book versus scrolling through Instagram, quiet prayer time— the list of single-oriented activities goes on and on and I bet there’s one or two we all look forward to at the end of a busy day. I know I wake up feeling much more rested and clear-headed when I strip away all the multi-tasking habits of the day. For me, it’s whipping up my favorite DIY face mask, warming up some golden milk tea and simply silencing my phone for even those final 15 minutes before bed. So whatever your ritual may be, I hope you can reclaim part of your night in a way that sends you off to a better night’s sleep.